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Iowa’s McCaffery prepares team to face tough Penn State squad Saturday in Carver Arena


This news story was published on February 29, 2020.
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IOWA CITY – University of Iowa Basketball men’s head coach Fran McCaffery held a press conference Friday in advance of the home game Saturday versus Penn State.

University of Iowa Basketball Media Conference

Friday, February 28, 2020

Fran McCaffery

Men’s Basketball

Q. Any update on CJ?
FRAN McCAFFERY: He looks pretty good. He’s been able to do pretty much everything the last couple days.

Q. You mentioned the cutting —
FRAN McCAFFERY: Yeah, that’s usually the last thing to come.

Q. CJ brings you offense, but how much will his return help you defensively?
FRAN McCAFFERY: A lot. When you look at minutes and fatigue, certainly there. He’s one of the best shooters in the league, gives you another weapon offensively, but also can make a play, an experienced guy.

Q. Wieskamp’s shooting numbers have dropped off the last few games without CJ. Is there a correlation between that?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I don’t think so. He’s getting good looks at it. He’s been a little bit off. He’s really working. I thought he worked without the ball extremely well. He’s trying to mix up his drives and his jump shots, his pull-ups. He’ll get going again.

Q. Luka mentioned he had a sore foot the last few games. Is that a concern at all and does that alter his workload?
FRAN McCAFFERY: He’ll be fine for the game. I’m not worried about it.

Q. Will you have CJ back in the starting lineup?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Probably.

Q. What did you think when you saw the Penn State-Rutgers game the other night?
FRAN McCAFFERY: It was a great game. You saw a lot of fight from Rutgers, and you saw some resiliency from Penn State. Not an easy team to get up on big, and they did, and they came back and fought and got the win. A lot of times when you give up a lead like that, you lose the game, so give Penn State credit. Give Rutgers credit for coming back. Penn State has good players that are playing well. They’re connected. The center position has really produced for them, whether it’s Watkins or Harrar. Both of those guys are playing at a very high level. Stevens is one of the best players in the country. But all the other guys are contributing and defending and making plays, making shots. You make 14 threes on the road against Purdue, that’s hard to do.

Q. Will you prepare like Myreon Jones is going to —
FRAN McCAFFERY: We always do, yes. We always prepare as if he’s going to play.

Q. Have they changed a lot since the last time you’ve seen them? It’s been a while.
FRAN McCAFFERY: It’s been a while. The one change is Harrar is in the starting lineup, Watkins is coming off the bench. But it’s not really a huge change because they’re both playing the same amount of minutes.

Q. In the first meeting, I think a lot of people who saw that game said it was one of the best games of the season. Just the style of the two teams —
FRAN McCAFFERY: I think that has something to do with it. You had two teams going up and down. It was a fast-paced game. There were a lot of good individual plays, individual performances. There were a ton of lead changes. I think a lot of times people look at what they think as a good game is different teams taking the lead at various points in time. Both teams fought hard. Both teams fought back. It was a really competitive, physical, clean game I thought.

Q. How does Joe Toussaint help your defense?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, they’ve got a lot of speed, but he can’t guard all of them, so he’s going to guard pretty much the guy that plays the point any particular time. Wheeler is playing very well, and he’s one of the more improved players, I think, in our league. Really been consistent at doing what Pat wants him to do. So it starts there, but whoever else has the ball, he’s a guy that can guard the ball and put pressure on the ball. He’s really good on ball screens, as we’ve said many times.

Q. A lot of focus on CJ’s offense, but he’s got to help you guys quite a bit defensively.
FRAN McCAFFERY: Especially because there’s times when they’re going to go small. They went small with Lamar at the 5 last time we played them. They’re not doing that too much, but they can, because they’ve got kind of bigger wings, athletic guys that go get it, so they can do that and spread you out, and you’ve got five drivers, things like that.

You need all your guys in a situation like that.

Q. When you look back, what has Ryan Kriener meant to this program?
FRAN McCAFFERY: He’s everything you want when you recruit somebody to come in and be an incredible team guy who’s really talented and produces consistently. Great effort, great attitude in the locker room, follows it through throughout the year, it’s not just when we’re playing, whether we’re doing a spring workout or a summer lifting program at 6 a.m. He’s ready to go. Really become a terrific leader for us. He speaks up and has a lot to say, which is good, because he’s smart, and typically what he says is valuable.

As I’ve said many times, I encourage my guys to speak up when they’re like that. Otherwise if you’re not as sure, then ask us, ask him, ask the guys that really know and understand. But he’s a guy, when he talks out there, the other guys all listen to him.

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